This is my second blog on our journey to adoption where we move on from the introductions to the actual process – or simply forms, forms, forms
Stage 3 – The training, well pre-training…
After the interview we were fortunate enough to be accepted and invited onto the next stage, the 4 days of training (over 2 weeks). This is the start of a very long and in-depth process where you get a better understanding of what is expected of you and some of the challenges the children may have faced. We were given dates for this training in the forthcoming months and had to work out how we could fit this in with our day to day work.
It does become a bit of a juggling act, as you still need to work (we were a long way from telling our work about our plans), but are really keen to get started. We also had a small doubt that if we could not do the first dates offered, that it would be held against us in the process (Look at them, saying they want to adopt, but how serious are they when they cannot even make the course).
It does sound silly to think this, and I do feel that we started to over think this, as you still need to be able to continue your life as you go through the process (unless you are very lucky to not need to have a job – but I expect like us, that is unlikely). My advice is to find the dates that work for you – it is a stressful enough experience without you putting more pressure on yourself.
MY Tip – don’t feel bad (or guilty) if you have to ask for later dates if you have work or family commitments that you cannot move. It is good to learn early that life, work and adoption work in parallel – you cannot commit 100% of your time and effort to just one. It will hopefully also give some practice of the plate spinning you will need to do when you have kids
As you await your course dates, you also get sent through a number of new and exciting forms to complete (Well, when I say a number, I mean many, many forms). The main ones are an ECO Map, Family Tree and Chronology, as well as a request to get a medical. These forms are quite extensive, but become very important as they are used in the process to help get a better understanding of your life and what major events you have experienced.
The Chronology is a list (with comments) on your significant events, addresses, education and employment details for your entire life. This will include relationships, moves and family events. You may find this easy to complete, or like me, struggle to remember….did I live there that year, or had I moved?
The form really makes you think back through your life as you need to put details of past relationships (who with, how you broke up and how that made you feel – which for a bloke who may not always share feelings, is a bit of a mind bender), and significant events that might have affected you (death in the family, divorce etc). It does at times feel a little intrusive and you may feel you want to hold back (or may even want to paint a slightly better picture.), but my advice is not to. This is information is used to help guide you through the process and give areas to discuss so I think it is really important that you fill this out honestly, as not only will it help you get a better understanding of what you have done, but also gives great opportunity to find areas of strength and success, later on in the process.
MY Tip – don’t be afraid to show the honest truth. That is who you are and very few things are red flags. Everyone has a history (and a family member they may not like 🙂 ). That is normal – and showing how you cope – can highlight your real strength.
MY Tip –Check with your partner on dates that involve both of you. S and I needed to confirm the year we met – don’t want to get this wrong – in the forms OR in life :-O
If I am being honest, I actually found the process (and the following discussions quite cathartic – and learnt a lot about myself – most of it good 🙂 )
The other main piece of homework is the Eco Map, which is a diagram used to represent in a picture format you, your immediate family and the connections you all have within the community. It resembles a spider web of people connected to you (with you in the centre) and is used to help map out who you have in your support network.
The more you can add in this, the stronger your application will look – so look beyond your friends and family to people in the community who you know that could be of help (do you have a drink with the local doctor? Do you know the scout leader?). It also helps you focus on improving your support network – as you will start to see the gaps (no-one local you can call on in a child emergency, family all the other side of the country etc).
I suggest you really take some time to pull this together and speak to friends about it. They may be able to point you in the direction of some other people who might be able to go onto your support network. This in fact happened to us. I help out at the scouts and was speaking with the scout leader about our support network, and he mentioned a couple he was friends with who adopted 2 kids a few years ago. After a quick introduction, a visit to their house with a bottle of wine, they were (happily) on our support network – giving us advice on schools, local facilities, what to look out for in the first few months etc.
MY TIP – Start early, and do not think you can leave this to the last minute. Talk to your friends, you never know what knowledge and help they and their network might bring.
Without having those chats (and finding out their favourite wine), we might not have found a fantastic resource (and of course new friends) that are able to help and advise us. We even found out that for them, talking about it was a helpful release as well. Win – win (although I think we have got the bigger win out of it).
All these forms really make you think and actually help you get a better understanding of yourself (which I hope you will find a positive) and should be extremely helpful in the next few months as you get further down the process.
…Just don’t ask me to go through all my past relationships 🙂
My Next Update will cover the actual course days….